The Mental Wellness Project Archive

The Mental Wellness Project is a solutions-oriented journalism initiative covering mental health issues in Southwest Michigan, created by the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative.

This is a new project built to:

  • LISTEN to Southwest Michigan community members about the issues affecting mental wellness
  • LEARN how we can improve access to mental health services and supports to build healthier, happier communities
  • REPORT on effective approaches that can remove barriers to mental health services

Southwest Michigan is getting an influx of new inpatient psychiatric beds, thanks to two major projects in the works. But those projects still won’t solve the dire shortage of inpatient care, according to local officials and state estimates.
If you are teetering on the edge of a cliff, considering the abyss below, warmline is not for you. You need a hotline. Now. For those in crisis, call 2-1-1 or contact Gryphon Place in Kalamazoo at their crisis hotline, 269.381.HELP. These good people are there for you at all hours, ready to help and prevent the worst. But maybe that’s not you.
By many accounts, the negative societal stigma associated with mental health problems — seeking counseling in particular — is as low as it’s ever been. Experts point to the pandemic’s effect on the rise in telehealth and how that has helped ease many people skittish about receiving help into therapy or how social media has helped raise awareness of mental health problems and provided a space for people to interact with others who are struggling with the same issues.
A new program in Southwest Michigan is combining some tried and true therapies, in a new mix, to help military Veterans find their return to civilian life a bit easier. After a few steps back, a new community garden is almost ready for veterans and volunteers to start planting — and reaping a harvest of help.
Local leaders who work with young people say a generational mental health crisis is looming but not inevitable. To avoid a crisis requires more adequate funding for services – not a new need by any means. The leaders also expressed a need less well-known outside of social service circles: Youth know what they need, and they know what works for them, so providers need to listen more and direct less.
Police responding to a domestic dispute between mother and daughter find a distraught teenager who is cutting herself. A disruptive man in a parking lot appears to be experiencing psychotic delusions. A frantic 911 call comes from a woman worried her husband is suicidal or from someone whose family member has overdosed on drugs.

The Problem We Seek to Address

Some progress has been made toward a just and equitable healthcare system, especially with the implementation of telemedicine. However, access to mental health services remains limited due to societal stigma, shortage of mental health professionals—especially mental health professionals who are culturally competent—availability, and affordability of high-quality services to meet the gap in access.

Financial Support

The Mental Wellness Project is made possible through financial support from Solutions Journalism Network, with the mission to spread the practice of solutions journalism: rigorous reporting on responses to social problems. It seeks to rebalance the news, so that everyday people are exposed to stories that help them understand problems and challenges, and stories that show potential ways to respond.